A little explanation first.
And a greetings.
I’m back to writing, and this time I’m going to try to keep up with my blog posts, but I make no promises. As the more I learn about the craft, the more I realize, I don’t have advice to give.
But anyway. As an exercise before I begin my writing each day (with a goal of 5k words a week I WILL be writing nearly every day) I will spend 15 minutes free writing. Writing almost stream of conscious. Though, I don’t know if any of my writing could ever be TRULY stream of conscious, as I edit it in the space of time it takes to get from my head to my fingers. But, such is life.
When she spoke, it was as though her she were removed from the situation; as though nothing that was happening affected her in the slightest. There was no emotion, no feeling, no soul in her voice. As Ja’ahrek kneeled in front of her and peered into her face, he found it to mirror her voice. A blank expression matched her blank voice and vacant eyes stared through him sightlessly.
Grasping her arm, she still did not move. Not to shake him off, not to meet or avoid his gaze. This was not the Ma’arina he knew. For the first time in many years- too many to count- Ja’ahrek felt fear; the good and proper kind that raised his flesh in bumps as the chill of it worked it’s way down his spine.
“Jinelle,” his voice cracked slightly and he had to clear his throat before he could speak without wavering. “Take that thing off of her.”
The woman with him snapped a smart salute and, letting her rifle hang loose on it’s shoulder strap, she stepped closer to the still woman and reached for the amulet that still gave off it’s even, blue glow. The snap of breaking bone and flesh echoed through the small chamber and it took a moment for Ja’ahrek to put together what had happened. Ma’arina, moving so quickly that neither soldier had time to react, had broken Jinelle’s arm before her fingers made it within a foot of the amulet.
True to her training, however, Jinelle didn’t make a single sound of pain even as she cradled the broken arm to her chest.
As the word came to his lips unbidden, Jinelle raised an eyebrow. Come to think of it, he’d never cursed in her presence, had he? No, of course not. Since they’d met he’d been in the position of her superior. He ignored her look and stepped closer. At his gesture she proffered her arm. Though she still made no sound of pain, he saw the wince that she tried to hide.
Scowling, he examined the limb without touching it. It appeared to be broken at the midway point between the wrist and the elbow. Though blood obscured much of the skin, he could see the end of a pale bone peering from the flesh and he had to force down bile.
Well that’s my time, and I think I may have to continue this little piece tomorrow. I’m intrigued.
Unbunch your panties and put down the picket signs, I don’t mean it like that.
What I Do Mean
I hate the “Young Adult” classification of books. Both as a reader and as a writer, I feel that trying to put an “age limit” on books is, quite frankly, retarded. I didn’t read YA books for a long time, because of the classification. Honestly, when I picked up a YA book, it was by accident. The same goes with the “Teen” section in book stores. They’re all YA books, but I feel that setting them apart like that keeps adults from picking up the books because “they’re for kids/teens.” Despite the fact that they’re good books. My fiance and I just bought The Maze Runner, by James Dashner after seeing the movie. (Aside: Great movie, go see it. If you’ve read the book, they get a lot wrong, but I’m still in the process of reading the book.)
The Maze Runner is in the Teen/YA section in the bookstore along with many others. If it weren’t for the movie, I never would have picked it up. I think that’s because the perception of YA books is that their second-class as opposed to “real” fiction. This is wrong.
Definition of YA
Alright, a couple quotes from the Young Adult Fiction wikipedia page.
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Authors and readers of young adult (YA) novels often define the genre as literature as traditionally written for ages ranging from sixteen years up to the age of twenty-five
The subject matter and story lines of YA literature are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but YA literature spans the spectrum of fiction genres.
Okay, young characters do not a YA book make, problem number one.
Problem number two, Young Adult is not a genre, yet we’re using it as one. YA books can be any number of genres, from science fiction to fantasy to realistic fiction.
- YA books are only for teens/children/young adults.
- YA books cannot/should not be read by adults.
- Only teens will like YA books.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Maybe you should discredit everything I’m saying because I’m within that 16 – 25 age gap. But at the same time, I’ve only recently discovered YA books because I subscribed, perhaps unconsciously, to the “YA is not as good as REAL fiction” mindset.
The truth is, everyone can read and enjoy YA books.
Look at The Hunger Games trilogy. Those are “YA” books. My mother enjoyed them. As well as the Divergent series, another YA trilogy.
Why We Need to Get Rid of the YA Genre
It’s insulting. You’re telling teens that they should ONLY read these books. That they can’t handle/understand/read REAL fiction. That they’re not mature enough and they should stick with these books that were tailored just for them. Ugh. This is so wrong. I didn’t start reading YA books until after I graduated from high school. I read the Lord of the Rings in middle school.
The flip side of this argument is even more insulting. You’re telling adults that they shouldn’t read these books. That these books are only for kids or immature young adults. Really? You’re gonna try and tell any one what they can and can’t or should and shouldn’t read?
Alright. So maybe the YA genre is well-meaning. MAYBE it’s not meant to come off as limiting or whatnot. But it does. And it needs to go away.
If you click on that little thumbnail to the left, you will see how I am starting to make writing a habit. Yes, I’m cheating by using a program online. But, just holding myself accountable, or having you guys hold me accountable, just isn’t working. (Partly because there’s not enough of you that care.)
This is only day two of my using HabitRPG, but let me tell you this, it’s working. I set my writing goals small for now. 250 words a day for my personal writing, and if you look under the “Dailies” there’s one that says “Write 100 words exactly.” That one is a challenge set by someone else. And rewards will be given out to the winner. I’m not sure what that reward is, I’d have to go back and look. Also, I’m making that 100 words and 250 words completely separate.
At the top of the screen are two bars, one red, and one a yellow-ish orange. The red is your “health.” If you don’t complete a daily, or you get a negative (Yes, it can also be used to break bad habits,) that goes down. I’m not sure yet what happens when it gets to zero, and I hope I never do. The second bar is your “experience.” You gain experience by completing that tasks that you set for yourself. How many points depends upon how difficult it is. Most of mine at the moment are set to “easy” because they’re not that hard. A couple are set to “medium” and only two right now (The plotting ones) are set to “hard.”
Ooh. And the rewards. On the right hand side, you’ll see that I have “New Episode of Doctor Who” and the date it comes out. Well, in order to watch that, I must have gained 10 gold. You get gold along with experience for completing tasks.
Anyway. That’s how I am making writing a habit. How are you going to make it a habit?
Creating races is something that we in fantasy and sci-fi tend to do moreso than other genres.
But how do we get past the Tolkien-esque elves and dwarves and hobbits? Or the green/blue skinned aliens that look basically like humans with tentacles on their heads?
How do we come up with something fresh and new, that nonetheless resonates with readers? Or at least doesn’t freak them out so bad that they put down your book and walk away.
We walk a fine line. The line between the familiar and the new. The fantastic and the cliche.
However, before even thinking about creating a new race, you need to ask yourself a few questions first.
Do you NEED a new race?
Can one of the previous mentioned, elves, dwarves, etc work instead? If you’re just recreating elves under a new name, why not just call them elves and get it over with? Sometimes the classics work. If you’re just creating a new race to be “new” and it’s only elves painted green or some-such, then there’s no reason for them.
Now that that decision is out of the way, if you’re still with me, then you’ve decided your race IS unique and you DO need a new one.
What’s different about them?
How are they different from the popular elves, dwarves and hobbits? (Yes, I’m using this example because I write fantasy.)
I will use a race I just created for this example. I started rewriting/working an OLD beginning to a story that I dug out of my closet. (I’m talking old, like from 2005.) Originally, I had the character as an elf. But I tire of elves and use them too much in my stories. So I started talking to a friend of mine. And I described them as “They’d be more reclusive than you see elves nowadays. They’d be more martial, less philosophical.” And then I realized, that they didn’t sound like elves at all.
This is what I came up with.
A race even less known than the reclusive Fae, the Mashin resemble a mix of man and ape. Long arms can sometimes drag upon the ground and are well-suited to life among the tall trees of the Elvarde forest.
Standing straight, even the shorter Mashin stands at or above seven feet tall. Their fur covered hide ranges in color from deep browns and blacks to the color of the evergreens. Eye color is generally dark on the verge of black, and the few Mashin with light (generally golden) colored eyes are either cast out as ‘cursed’ or praised and protected as ‘blessed.’
Rumored to have been created originally by magic, there is no proof that any as found to their exact means of creation. The Mashin have a small number of their species that can use magic, and martial prowess is viewed of more import as a direct result. To excel with the sword is to succeed.
Separated into clans, border disputes are common among the powerful, while the smaller are constantly shifting. Combining, splintering, and recombining endlessly. Considered ‘savages’ by the few humans that have encountered them, the Mashin keep to themselves, allowing only few outside merchants and traders into the forest where they thrive.
Mashin names tend to be long, complicated things, oft containing syllables and sounds the human mouth is incapable of reproducing.
As you can see, when I finished, they resembled nothing of the Elves from whence I began.
What is their society like?
What do they praise above all else? Using the Mashin as an example, they focus more on martial prowess. Not art or philosophy. Not magic.
How are they ruled? I touched on it with the Mashin. They have a clan structure. I haven’t flushed it out other then that yet, but it’s a start.
What is their relationship with other species? Very important. Also as important is how the other species view them. The Mashin are very reclusive. Some humans don’t even believe they exist.
Religion. Especially if you’re writing fantasy, knowing the belief systems of your races can be important. Are they polytheistic? Monotheistic? Do they worship the ancestors? Do they have living paragons/god-kings?
I am sure there’s much more I am forgetting, but that should give you a solid foundation. But I must caution you once more, be ABSOLUTELY certain that you need a new race before you go about creating one.
Yet again, apologies for my silence.
I have no excuse but for the fact I haven’t been writing. Instead I have been beta-reading/editing a gal’s Mass Effect fan fiction. Which lends itself to this post as it did the last.
Yes, its another pro and con list. I like them.
Basically the list from last week. In this case I’m talking about writing with no plan
– The world is your oyster. You can do whatever you want. It’s your sandbox and you are king, god, CEO.
– Nothing is out of bounds, so long as it makes sense/fits in your world
– Progress can stagnate when you don’t have a road map.
– If you change or add something midway through going back and adding it can be migraine inducing.
– You have to rely on your brain or ongoing notes to keep physical descriptions, personality/speech quirks, places, maps, etc straight in your work.
– Since nothing is set in stone you can play around with thoughts/ideas/side plots you wouldn’t ordinarily do while writing.
– If you make major changes late in the game, notes are easily added to change earlier chapters.
– You can explore ideas in full before committing to them.
– It’s easy to ‘burn out’ and feel like the actual writing is like pulling teeth.
– It is also easy, in the writing, to feel like the plot is ‘locked in’ and no changes can be made.
– The world and characters and story are already there. No creation needed.
– Editing is so easy. You’re polishing, prettying and perfecting.
– Big changes are a big responsibility. Hell, even small changes have long reaching effects. Try removing even a side character and it’s a pain.
– It’s easy to get bogged down in the details.
– It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that it’ll never be perfect. There’s always something that can be fixed. The trick is knowing when to stop fixing.
So I’m hoping this to be a weekly thing…
There was a post a LONG time ago about how every writer (In my humble opinion) needs a “bucket” of sorts, in which to catch their ideas. Mind happens to be a notebook. (Actually multiple notebooks). It seems to be the most common.
Now, on Shake the Bucket Wednesday’s, I will post something in my bucket. Whether it be a title, a character, an idea, or simply a line of dialogue that I loved.
I hope to spark conversation about what it might be from/about/what story might come from it. Honestly, I don’t expect much (even though I just reached 50 followers #squee) as my blog is rather small, but I’m hoping it will grow and become more.
So, on this Shake the Bucket Wednesday I come bearing two titles, possibly related books.
Burned by Ice and The Frozen Flame
And that’s all. I am in LOVE with the titles, but as of yet they have no story or even characters to go with. Ideas?
So I’ve posted in many places, mostly on the JulNoWriMo Forums, about my “writer funk” as I’ve been calling it. And a single tweet on twitter, and I’ve had my own words thrown back in my face roughly half a dozen time.
Just. Keep. Writing. Or power through. Write anyway.
For about a week now, I haven’t. I just had given up. But today I was chatting with a friend (whom I talked into do JulNoWriMo with me this year) who had finally started working on his. He was at over 900 words. I was, at last count, under 800. You know what I did? (After much whinging to him) I started writing. I’m now at over 900 words as well and will be (hopefully) well over 1000 when I go to bed today.
So, how to break through the funk? (Or dissolve writers block, if you want to put it that way). Get a writing partner. Ask their wordcount. Beat it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
If you’re not working on projects of the same length at the same time, keep a daily wordcount and ask that they do the same.
Don’t have a writing partner? I’ll gladly volunteer! Send me a tweet @ThatNerdyWriter or contact me here on my blog. I’ll be posting (hopefully) daily updates with my words written so you can keep up to date with me (and possibly beat my daily word counts) without having to wait upon my replies. (But please do get in touch, I like talking to new people, especially other writers.)
Just keep writing!